Wild Birds

New Britain Sparrowhawks

The New Britain Sparrowhawks (Accipiter brachyurus) is a threatened species of bird of prey.

Distribution / Range

It is endemic to two Papua New Guinea islands, New Britain and New Ireland.

Even in 1934 Ernst Mayr, in his survey of mountain bird life during the Whitney South Sea Expedition, found the New Britain Sparrowhawk to be very rare.


These sparrowhawks are grey with a white underbelly and orange accents on the neck. They are often characterized by their large feet.

They are the only hawk in New Britain or the Solomon Islands that has a middle toe that is longer than the rest.

The feet of the New Britain Sparrowhawks are pale yellow.

These small birds only grow to be 27–34 cm long.


This species lives in tropical to subtropical, moist montane forests. The altitudes reach 1,200 to 1,800 m. New Britain Sparrowhawks nest like other birds, where they raise their young. Very little is known about this species because it is so rare and the areas in which it lives have not been thoroughly studied.


It is estimated that the population is only between 1,000 and 2,499 individuals.

The main threat to the continued existence of this species is habitat destruction which has led to the birds’ decline in lowland forests. The clearing of forest on the small islands leaves the species with less habitat, and a far less safe environment – leading to their vulnerability.

No conservation measures are known to have been taken; however, it has been proposed that surveys be made to assess population size and observe nests, as well as to map the remaining forest. There are also plans to lobby for large community-based conservation areas.


  1. BirdLife International (2008). . 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 19 February 2009.
  2. Mayr, E.: “Birds Collected During the Whitney South Sea Expedition. XXVIII”, page 1. American Museum of Novitates, 1934

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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